Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to Help Loudoun County High School Graduates Reach Collegiate Goals
LANSDOWNE, VA - The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced today that it will fund a program to make college possible for more students in Loudoun County, where it has been headquartered since it was founded in 2000. The program, called Pathway to the Baccalaureate, is the latest step in the Foundation's effort to expand college access to high-achieving, low-income students throughout Virginia.
Pathway to the Baccalaureate was created to provide financially needy students from Loudoun County's 11 high schools a smooth transition to Northern Virginia Community College, and ultimately, George Mason University. It was founded by a consortium, which includes the Fairfax County Public Schools, Loudoun County Public Schools, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), and George Mason University (GMU).
Pathway will annually target approximately 65 high school seniors from Loudoun County "who have the desire and capacity to achieve a four-year college degree, but who are at risk of never attending college due to financial or other circumstances," said Matthew J. Quinn, the Foundation's executive director.
In the first year, the Foundation will provide $75,000 in grants and annual scholarships to Pathway. Of that total figure, $60,000 will fund a guidance counselor position for the program. In addition, the Foundation will provide $1,000 annual scholarships to the 15 top students served by the program who are entering college. Annual funding could reach $120,000 once the program is fully implemented and successful.
"There are many talented students who fail to enter college because they need a knowledgeable adult working very closely with them to provide encouragement, support, and guidance," said NOVA President Robert G. Templin. "Some students from modest backgrounds don't even apply to college because they assume they can't pay for it-they don't know that financial aid is available." The Loudoun High School students most likely to benefit from Pathway, Templin said, include first-generation college students, low-income students, underrepresented minorities, children whose parents recently immigrated to the United States, and students with disabilities.
"Loudoun County is fortunate to have a cooperative program of this kind between our public schools, Northern Virginia Community College, and George Mason University," said Dr. Edgar Hatrick, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools. "This action by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will further the goal of providing opportunities to achieve a college degree for many of the qualified high school students of Loudoun County Public Schools. The services and scholarship assistance provided through the grant will help us meet the needs of students who sometimes struggle to meet college expenses and access to higher education."
Pathway counselors, who are full-time NOVA staff working in the Fairfax and Loudoun School Systems, will mentor and support the Pathway students. While it is anticipated that most students will enter NOVA, complete an associate's degree, and transfer to GMU, some may show the interest and capacity to apply to a more selective university directly from high school, or they might transfer from NOVA to such an institution. It is particularly these students the Foundation is targeting for its 15 annual scholarships.
The Pathway counselors will support students in several ways, including by:
Helping students to participate in community college, Advance Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes during high school.
Encouraging students to maintain high academic achievement during senior year of high school and in college.
Helping students with college applications and the financial aid process.
Emphasizing to students the importance of pursuing social and leadership opportunities on campus to integrate them into campus life and improve retention.
Students following the NOVA/GMU path will also receive assistance in preparing for the NOVA English and math placement tests; applying to transfer to GMU and registering for classes; and selecting an associate's degree program at NOVA that is compatible with each student's intended major at GMU.
"Last month we dedicated our new national headquarters here in Lansdowne," Quinn added. "We are a committed corporate citizen of Loudoun County, and we are delighted to support students in our own backyard."
In the last two years, the Foundation has awarded approximately $2 million in grants to build college access programs throughout Virginia.
ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. It focuses in particular on students with financial need. The Foundation's programs include scholarships to undergraduate, graduate and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need. www.jkcf.org